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Kenyan prison warden shares rare glimpse into inmates’ hidden world

By Winnie Mabel September 19th, 2023 2 min read

Once behind bars, prisoners’ lives transform drastically, with every moment regulated by strict schedules set by prison authorities. From waking up to performing tasks, eating, and even watching TV, their daily routines are tightly controlled. An anonymous Kenyan prison warden’s Reddit revelations exposed the hidden world of inmates, leaving the public astonished. Nairobi News highlights some eye-opening details from this warden’s experiences across four different prisons:

The warden was asked about inmates taking up fellow inmates as wives/husbands and the extent to which some prisoners would go to prevent the transfer of their prison spouses.

“I have witnessed a situation where a certain inmate was willing to give up to Sh 10,000 for a certain inmate not to be transferred to a different cell block. Some refuse to go to transfers to other prisons because they don’t want to leave their prison spouse. Funny enough some dude just refused to be released and when we forced it, he did come back a few days later having committed some misdemeanor. Wives are rampant in the prison system. Even women prisoners have wives. It is something you cannot control,” said the warden using the moniker Affectionate-Fox2015.

However, inmates living conditions are not good as free citizens may think. According to the warden, female prisoners tend to get better services in terms of beddings because they are few in number as opposed to male prisoners who are too many and congested in male prisons.

“Thanks to congestion in prisons, a prison that is meant to hold 300 inmates is now housing over 1300 inmates. They do not need blankets to sleep given that they are already more than 100 in a ward that is supposed to hold a handful of them. Have you ever heard of how at some point they are packed together until you have to wake up the whole row so that you can turn together in unison.  When you wake up to go and relieve yourself, you come back and you cant even find your spot,” explained the warden.

The warden further shed light on inmates’ access to toilets at night, revealing the horror they have to endure until morning.

“Yes, there is a bucket in the cell at night. If your cell has no inside toilet, you sit on the bucket and when you are done, another inmate will come and use it. It will continue like that until morning when the cell will be opened. Woe unto you if you are beans that messed up your stomach. For toiletries, that depends on if you have relatives who bring them for you. If an inmate does not have, they resort to using the mattresses offered to clean themselves up. No wonder they don’t have mattresses,” added the warden.

The warden also claimed prisoners are not allowed to kill lice, saying, “lice are the government’s property.” Additionally, no conjugal visits are allowed in Kenyan prisons and no gym equipment is allowed for prisoners’ use within the confines of the prison.

“If you want to exercise, you use your body and your weight. Those gym equipment are weapons to them. Even the lame bring their walking aids to us and we store them because they can also be used as weapons,” the warden went on.

The warden also revealed that any inmate who attempted to take their own life would be beaten and thrashed by wardens such that “next time you will remember the beating you got and you will drop those suicide thoughts.”